Duesenberg and the Charles Schutte Body Company

Duesenderg Straight Eight with body by Charles Schutte (from the collection of the author)

The Charles Schutte Body Company was founded in 1910 in Lancaster, PA. Although not one of the largest body companies, they earned a reputation for their commercial work - mostly buses. In 1918, after bodying the prototype, Schutte would provide all the coachwork for the short-lived Argonne car from Jersey City, New Jersey over the next two years. This expose to automobile bodies lead to the opportunity to produce a small run of production bodies for the newly introduced Duesenberg Straight Eight. 

Later known as the Model A (after the introduction of the Model J), The Automobile Trade Journal of July 1, 1920 wrote, "The Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Corp. has bought a factory site in Indianapolis and plans 2400 cars the first year of operation. In addition to a special Duesenberg engine the car will be equipped with four wheel brakes and an axle designed by Fred S. Duesenberg. The new car is stated to be 400 lbs lighter than those of similar power and will obtain from 18 to 22 miles on a gallon of gasoline." 

The Duesenberg Straight Eight would be introduced in November of 1920 at the New York Automobile Salon and would be the first American production car to employ a straight eight cylinder engine and four-wheel brakes. Schutte would provide primarily closed bodies, making these unique and handsome Coupes and Sedans - though it is unknown exactly how many were produced. Other companies would body the Straight Eight as well as - one of the most prolific being Leon Ruby producing a number of attractive open cars. The car would be sold between 1921 and 1926 with roughly 650 being produced – well short of original estimates.


In 1926, seeing an opportunity, Charles Schutte entered into negotiations to merge with the Blue Ribbon Body Company of Bridgeport, CT - who's business had declined when Locomobile, it's largest customer, went bankrupt. Unfortunately for Schutte, his investors took him to court to stop the merger when it was learned that the lancaster, PA plant might be closed if the deal went through. Untimely, Schutte was found guilty of stock manipulation and the company went bankrupt.




Duesenderg Straight Eight with body by Charles Schutte (from the collection of the author)


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